How to Identify and Treat Cold Sores at Home

May 7th 2016

A cold sore is a minor ailment that often heals on its own. However, it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing when cold sores infect your mouth. Work to prevent infections and promptly treat an outbreak to reduce pain and restore your appearance.

Identify Cold Sores

Cold sores consist of small blisters around the mouth or on the lip. You may notice the blisters are sore, swollen or red as they begin to appear. Some people even have blisters that leak a clear fluid, break open and scab over within a few days. Cold sores typically heal within a few days or may take up to two weeks to disappear.

Uncover the Cause

Cold sores stem from one of the two strains of the herpes simplex virus that can cause genital herpes and sores around the mouth. The herpes simplex virus usually infects the body inside the mouth or through a break in the skin near the lips or mouth. The virus is spread through contact with infected fluid, commonly from touching an infected person's saliva, sharing razors or utensils or kissing an infected person.

Treat the Sores

Cold sores usually heal on their own, but home remedies can help you to manage the symptoms when pesky sores invade your lips and mouth. Place a wet, cool towel on the sores for 20 minutes at least three times each day to reduce swelling and redness. Pain can be managed by taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Some people find relief by soothing the mouth with a baking soda mouth rinse or by applying nonprescription ointments such as Zilactin, Abreva, Anbesol or Orajel. Avoid foods high in acidic content such as tomatoes and citrus fruits as these can cause the sores to sting when eating.

Prevent Cold Sores

Take precautions to avoid cold sores by practicing proper hygiene. Toss away that old toothbrush and replace it once you have a cold sore to prevent the infecting agent from forming on the brush. Keep your hands off any sores or breaks within the skin to avoid blisters from popping or bacteria from infecting your mouth or lips. It may be polite to share with others, but when it comes to beverages, straws, toothbrushes and utensils, be stingy and keep these items to yourself to prevent spreading or contracting cold sores.


Just when you think you are having a great hair day and you feel confident, a cold sore appears on your mouth. These painful bumps, also known as fever blisters, often appear at the worst of times and without notice. Learn how to identify, treat and prevent these pesky little sores that can turn your sparkling mood to sour in an instant.

More in category

Related Content